Challenging Issues, Keeping the Faith: Challenging Issues & Keeping the Faith: A consistent Book of Mormon map


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  • the truth Holladay, UT
    Nov. 14, 2010 6:34 p.m.

    Mr. Ash,

    I must disagree with you that there could not have more gegraphic distruction,

    while there were towns or villages or cities thet may have survived relatively unscathed,

    there was much that wasn't,

    there were cities that sunk,

    lands raised, mountians lowered.

    the extent of which is unknown,

    but quit possibly enough to change some of of the geography,

    just because much of the population surived, and major cities survived does not mean there wasn't.

    because there may be some implied recognition of the land does not mean there wasn't,

    you simply can not assume that some areas were not greatly changed.

    great changes to some parts does not mean you stop recognizing the lands in general even if they have changed.

    just because the people lived on and and prospered in the land, particularly in local region, does means there was not changes the other parts of the geography.

    what needs to be talked about are the major geographic features or details mention AFTER christs visit.

    One question needsToBe answered how narrow was that "narrow" strip of land?

    could an earthquake have sunk it?

    BOM people didn't go Far so_Narrow must_Be visibly narrow.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Nov. 12, 2010 4:32 p.m.

    Scholars never see what they have no eyes for.

    BoM history critics show less neutrality than proponents. Perhaps those recognizing Gods whispering voice need not prove, but seek understanding, sometimes assuming. Maybe those rejecting must pacify conscience with arguments, like here, showing typical bias, answered repeats, and lacking scientific methods, and true question. No offense : ).

    Einstein said to 101 books written against him if I were wrong it would only take one, something.

    As Mike and others debunk we continue adding 200 years of false claims to the mountains of supportive BoM and other evidences. Thanks for service Mike.

    @searching, Christian BoM culture was systematically destroyed but strong evidence remains. Along with mountains indicating that IA cultures (Maya etc) are MEast related. Ive posted often from non-LDS showing detailed IA and ME relationships.

    Schele etc gives Kix translation.
    Her Pacal genealogy mentions only Kish from Olmec/Jaredite times (then symbolic Mother jump) and, with a Jaredite name and Kish timeframe, ANOTHER coincidence (of many thousands) is a stretch, but always possible.

    Shemitic connections abound, Garth suggests LaVenta Lib, not the Palenque.

    I dont claim more knowledge of Olmec/Mayan languages than respected Garth, Schele, do you?

  • brokenclay Scottsdale, AZ
    Nov. 9, 2010 7:21 p.m.

    Imagine if the historicity of the Bible rested on the same type of evidence that the Book of Mormon rests on (i.e., none). Elements of the Bible may be disputed, like creation (though potent arguments can be marshaled in favor of these disputed portions), but even the most vociferous critics will acknowledge the Bible's general reliability as a historical record. The evidence is overwhelming. We have numerous records and archaeological evidences for empires that existed well before Book of Mormon times in the Old World (Assyria, Babylon, Hittites, and a host of others), yet for some inexplicable reason we have none of the same kind of confirmation for Book of Mormon empires in the New World. The external evidence against the BoM is overwhelming (and the internal evidence is equally condemning).

    You cannot write a story with a figure named "Jesus" in it and then claim authenticity for it by riding the coattails of the well-established history presented in the Bible-- for it seems to me that this is what Mormons have done, whether consciously or not. Turn while time remains to the rational and true Triune God. Don't wait!

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Nov. 9, 2010 3:53 p.m.

    HCW wrote:
    "The only problem I have with greek manuscripts is that the oldest ones which make up the New Testament can only be dated to the third century A.D, 200." What about B.C.
    Historical accuracy of Joseph Smiths inspired version (Genesis 1-7 JST) The Dead Sea scrolls(150 B.C.-70 AD), Septuagint (The Apostles Bible, 250 B.C) and the Massoretic text(KJV), All disagree with the inspired version of the Bible. Joseph Smith added many unsupported verses to the first 7 Chapters of Genesis.
    Faith is only as good as the object of that faith.
    In (Mt 7:15-23) Jesus is talking to church goers of his today, Verse, 23, Then I will tell them plainly, I never knew you. Away from me evil doers. Mormon salvation stands or falls on the Jesus(exalted man)of Joseph Smith versus the Jesus of the Bible, the uncreated creator of all else.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 3:17 p.m.

    Alberta Reader,

    Where, specifically, in the Book of Mormon are you promised that you can live eternally with your family through the temple?

    What happens to your family members when they believe Aspiring Theist instead of you? Do you still get to live eternally with them, regardless how they feel about it?

    If they have a choice in the matter, how do you know they want to be tethered to you for eternity?

  • Alberta Reader Magrath, Alberta
    Nov. 9, 2010 11:58 a.m.

    Aspiring Theist
    Interesting and thoughtful comment you made, the points made by posters are enlightening. I am very much like your friend my testimony of the BofM continues to grow at a steady and regular basis only as I read it and apply my faith through action despite anything that comes to light.
    To those that don't believe what do you offer in return? I know all of you out there love your family (Otis I have come to like you I read the sports as well)
    Do any of you with your current beliefs offer me the belief I can live eternally with my family that means everything to me forever through the temple? I don't think so. Therefore, for now I will stay firm in my LDS faith and belief in the family. I am sure 99% of you out there would chose your family relationships for eternity given the chance.

    Princeton hello to you I pray your family is doing well and you have the same desire for your family as well.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 11:36 a.m.

    Bill, thank you for confirming what many feel about the Book of Mormon promise: "If one prays with the least bit desire that it is not true, then you will never receive the answer many have received." So, whatever answer you desire to receive is what you will receive. I have found that to be the case in my life as well. The answers that agreed with the LDS-expectant answers felt the same as those answers that weren't LDS-expectant.

  • Aspiring Theist Sandy, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 11:06 a.m.

    I believe Ash is correct when he says all readers approach a text with preconceived notions, bias and assumptions, and all people interpret passages based on a variety of other influences. I have a friend who puts it this way; No matter what the facts reveal, they support my position and strengthen my testimony. Ive read these articles for some time, hoping to have an open mind and to be honest within myself, but I realize that I have bias and assumptions like everyone.

    Despite the many articles written, to me the geographical evidence supporting the Book of Mormon is very thin and tenuous. Anthropologists seem to discover and understand many ancient cultures in the Western Hemisphere, but I have read of none that directly support the Book of Mormon story.

    It is difficult for me to come to get a solid conclusion concerning the authenticity of the Book of Mormon based on geographical evidence. Theres not enough there to convince me yet. It is very enlightening, however, to read the variety of responses and the points people make - thanks.

  • raybies Layton, UT
    Nov. 9, 2010 7:35 a.m.

    Just because academics disagree doesn't mean they can't be academics.

    Dr. Sorenson, Clark, Nibley, Ash, et. al. are entitled to present information as they have studied it, state their evidences, discuss any counter evidences, and present the realm of possibilities in as straightforward manner as is within their abilities.

    It doesn't make them disingenuous if their motives first came from faith, and to their credit they don't attempt to hide their religious motivation. This is much more "ingenuous" than disaffected/dispirited members who have fallen into apostasy and now have a grudge--hide behind their hatred of the church--claiming to be only on the side of science and truth when their real motives are purely based upon emotional hatred and a desire for revenge for pretended wrongs they accumulated of their own poor choices and personal political vendettas.

    So Hooray for science! And thanks for keeping it real, Michael!

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 8, 2010 10:32 p.m.

    To A Scientist: The problem is that many that have stated that they got a different message than what I got is that they never even read the entire Book of Mormon.

    If one prays with the least bit desire that it is not true, then you will never receive the answer many have received. The challenge is real and is true.

    You can read a few pages and put it down and ask is it true. You have to ponder it out in your mind, ask sincerely if it is true, and then be ready to act upon the answer given. I have heard enough people say well I got the opposite of what you got and this is how. FATHER PROVE TO ME IT IS TRUE. We are expected to ponder it and then to ask. I had to read all the way through ALMA before I got my answer. Then it took me several days to realize the answer I received. It didn't happen over nite nor did it happen quickly. When I realized the answer I was already acting upon it before it occurred to me the Book of Mormon was and is true.

  • sharrona layton, Ut
    Nov. 8, 2010 10:14 p.m.

    RE: HCW,"The only problem I have with greek manuscripts is that the oldest ones which make up the New Testament can only be dated to the third century AD 200 years after the events took place".
    First, it is not true we do not possess the original text of the Bible. What we do not possess are the original manuscripts. We have accurate well-preserved copies of the original text. There are some 5,700 early N.T., MS and they contain all or nearly all of the original text. We can reconstruct the original text with over 99% accuracy. Second there is a distinction between the text and the truth of the text. While we can reconstruct only 99% of the original text, 100% of the truth comes through. Norman Geisler
    There are over 36,000 quotes from the early church Fathers as well as the disciples of the Apostles in which the entire N.T. could be reconstructed, save 9 verses.
    Say if the original triangle was in a museum and it burned ,we have enough copies to reconstruct it.

  • HCW Mesa, AZ
    Nov. 8, 2010 8:10 p.m.

    ctam wrote:

    Historical accuracy of the BoM(3 Nephi 13:13 and MT 6:13 KJV),For thine is the Kingdom and the power ,and the glory foreveris found in the KJV which is based on 9th-12th century texts per Mormon Scholar Stan Larsen,and NIV states that the doxology is not found in earlier and better manuscripts.


    But were those earlier and better manuscipts something people living in the 19th century would have access to. The BOM uses language familiar to people ot that time which would have been the King James Bible.

    The only problem I have with greek manuscripts is that the oldest ones which make up the New Testament can only be dated to the third century A.D, 200 years after the events in the NT took place.

  • A Scientist Provo, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 6:35 p.m.

    Idaho Coug and Apocalypse Cow make good points. But I don't think there are many people who expect an objective, non-biased treatment of the evidence on Deseret News or Mormontimes. I think most readers of these sites fully expect Ash and other apologists to give them ammunition for their own "missionary work".

    Personally, I don't think there is any objective evidence supporting the truthfulness or historicity of the Book of Mormon... unless you twist the definition of evidence, as some apologists are eager to do.

    IMHO, whether you think the evidence does or does not support the BOM is a trivial issue.

    The real problem is when believers condemn non-believers for their disbelief. In this, most faithful LDS are implicated. They tell you to take Moroni's Challenge, which promises the Spirit will confirm the truth of the BOM to you.

    So when you take the challenge and get nothing, they automatically condemn YOU as being insincere, or not having enough faith, or otherwise morally deficient.

    They do not allow that honest, intelligent, good people can get an "answer" that the BOM is not "true". Now that is unethical and immoral.

  • cmtam lake forest, ca
    Nov. 8, 2010 5:30 p.m.

    Historical accuracy of the BoM(3 Nephi 13:13 and MT 6:13 KJV),For thine is the Kingdom and the power ,and the glory foreveris found in the KJV which is based on 9th-12th century texts per Mormon Scholar Stan Larsen,and NIV states that the doxology is not found in earlier and better manuscripts. Joseph Smith relied on the KJV. Another reasons Mormons do not have a modern translation of the Bible.

    (3Nephi 12:3 and JST 5:5)Yea, blessed are the poor in spirit who come unto me. It should read, [*God] Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.(Mt 5:3 Greek N.T.)*Greek divine passive. No Greek variant support for come unto me in (Mt 5:3)and JST.

  • Apocolypse Cow SLC, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 5:25 p.m.

    Good points Idaho Cougar. I think it might be a good idea to preface these articles with a disclaimer that states:

    "LDS apologists are NOT open to just any conclusion. They are NOT open to wherever the evidence may lead. They begin with what is usually a very strong testimony of the LDS Church. The apologetic process is to bolster or prove that testimony by refuting claims to the contrary or providing evidence that supports that testimony."

    With a disclaimer, at least then we would all know what to expect from these articles. I think many people get frustrated because they expect these articles to objectively examine the evidence, instead of the author having a preconceived conclusion and making the evidence fit the same.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Nov. 8, 2010 5:08 p.m.

    To Jeff and Mormon Cowboy,

    It is my opinion that whether the evidence seems to prove the BofM true or false really depends on whether you begin with a testimony of the BofM or not.

    If someone does not have a testimony of the BofM and objectively looks at all the evidence for and against, I believe the vast majority would lean toward the BofM NOT being what it claims.

    If one begins with a solid testimony, they are likely to view the evidence as bolstering their testimony.

    There are some members of the Church (like myself) who may not begin on such solid ground. I appreciate the parallel evidences for the BofM but still painfully acknowledge that much is lacking and wishe there was more direct evidence in particular. The lack of direct evidence can even weaken a testimony that is not solid to begin with.

    I HOPE the BofM is what it claims. But honestly I have to say that the evidence to date does very little to persuade an unbiased observer and even little to persuade an unsure member such as myself.

    But I continue to HOPE - which is an important component of faith.

  • Jeff Temple City, CA
    Nov. 8, 2010 4:31 p.m.

    I disagree with Mormoncowboy that "the simplest explanatiion for all this is that the Book of Mormon is not true." It is far simpler to accept the book as true.

    There are too many conflicting conspiracy theories to justify, too many accurate guesses in names and customs, too much that contradicted 19th Century thoughts that now holds true, too much narrative consistency, too many narrative voices, and too many attacks weathered for the Book of Mormon to be easily rejected.

    The most logical explanatiion for the Book of Mormon is that it is an ancient record written by a variety of ancient authors, edited by ancient editors named Mormon and Moroni, and translated into English.

    The problem that people have with this simplest of explanations is that, to accept it, one must also accept the story of Joseph Smith and the Angel Moroni, and by extension the Restoration of the Gospel. That's why people want to allow any number of other things to make the simplest explanation (the book is true) difficult to swallow.

  • Idaho Coug Meridian, Idaho
    Nov. 8, 2010 2:51 p.m.

    I think it is worth repeating what exactly an LDS apologist is and is not. And of course Mike Ash should feel free to correct me as he is the resident LDS apologist.

    LDS apologists are NOT open to just any conclusion. They are not open to wherever the evidence may lead. They begin with what is usually a very strong testimony of the LDS Church. The apologetic process is to bolster or prove that testimony by refuting claims to the contrary or providing evidence that supports that testimony.

    Most apologists try to use a modern understanding of science or other applicable fields of study in order to bolster LDS claims. In so doing, they occassionally have to dismiss prophetic statements as mere opinion as some prophetic statemements simply cannot be upheld without completely dismissing all relevant science and evidence. Joseph Smith's statement that all OT events up to the flood occurred in Jackson County, MS is a prime example of this. I believe NO apologist would ever try to support that statement.

    So I appreciate LDS apologists for bringing in a more reasoned, fact-based argument for LDS positions. But in the end, testimonies must be upheld.

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 2:27 p.m.


    You question my sincerity? I never attacked anyone; I simply questioned the scholarship, and would like to have it reviewed by others who are in the same field, only no other scholars agree with any of your stated findings.

    Proverbs 27:17 says As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. I have been an ardent reader for some time, and some of your articles have sent me on some enlightening journeys, but of course most of which I have found you to be wanting, but I always come away a bit sharper! ; ) I have read your book, and while I am not Mormon, I am not anti-Mormon, I just dont buy into your premise of faith based reasoning, preferring a more reasoning based faith!

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 8, 2010 1:43 p.m.

    "I suggest you consult my lengthy dicussion on this topic in Shaken Faith Syndrome."

    Huh...Shaken Faith Syndrome? You characterize "shaken faith" in clinical terms, as though it were a medical or psychological "condition"? Mr. Ash, I hope this is no indication of how you develop "evidence" for The Book of Mormon.

    No, I think I'll pass on consulting literature on faith, where the title asserts such an absurd premise.

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 1:34 p.m.

    Michael Ash wrote:

    "I never said that it could not be "reasonably concluded" that the BoM is not historic. On the other hand, it can also be "reasonably conculded" (based on the evidence) that the BoM is historical. From my (honest) research, I think it is probable that the BoM is historic (based strictly on secular evidenc)."

    Thanks for your response, Brother Ash. It is clear that if you were to list your "secular evidence" in favor of the BoM, and I listed "secular evidence" against the BoM, my list would be much greater than yours. The preponderance of the current evidence is much greater against the BoM being historical. Like I said previously, it is possible the BoM is true, but highly improbable based upon the objective, scientific evidence. It would be refreshing to hear an apologist be intellectually honest about the current state of evidence. Thanks again.

  • Mike Ash Ogden, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 1:15 p.m.

    To IndependentLiberal:

    Your specious (and ultimately ad hominem) charges against LDS scholarship has been dealt with on numerous occasions in other venues. I suggest you consult my lengthy dicussion on this topic in Shaken Faith Syndrome.

  • Searching . . . Orem, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 12:59 p.m.

    Removing the Book of Mormon as evidence for itself, is there archaeological evidence for a Christian civilization populating any portion of the Americas from 600BC to 400AD? When scientists use the same criteria (simplicity, consistency, uniformity) when evaluating evidence, how could they possibly support a Book of Mormon model?

    JM, regarding Pacal's genealogy: the glyph for "Kish" could be a completely different phoneme depending on the interpretation. Is Kish the only Jaredite named in the genealogy? If so, how can it be more than coincidence. And Garth Norman connection of Lib to a stella in La Venta is quite a stretch (name Lib to semitic "lib" meaning "fish" (was the Jaredite language semitic? How could we know that?) to Olmec glyph of fish meaning white to fish glyph on stella indicating that the figure on the stella was Lib? What were we saying about simplicity of evidence?

  • Mormoncowboy Provo, Ut
    Nov. 8, 2010 12:52 p.m.

    The simplist explanation for all of this is that The Book of Mormon is not true. Any geographical theory about The Book of Mormon, which does not allow the events to span the entirety of both North, Central, and Southern continents, is by definition a limited geography model. But how limited is limited? I know this is an old point of debate, but Joseph Smith is recorded to have said during the Zions Camp march, that a contemporary of "Zelph" was a man named Onandagus who was known from the rocky mountains to the eastern sea. That's a bit larger geography than what I feel is implied by the idea of "limited" in the various assumptions.

  • IndependentLiberal Salt Lake City, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 12:36 p.m.

    Mike you are being a bit disingenuous. Suppose Dr. Clark and Dr. Sorenson are considered scholarly because they agree and you acting as an apologist doesnt make any of your premises any more feasible, probable or possible, it is considered cronyism. Please reference ANY peer review audit, or double blind assessment, from ANY source outside the Mormon establishment, in the fields of Mesoamerican history, archeology, anthropology that even begin to add credibility to their Scholarship.

  • Bill in Nebraska Maryville, MO
    Nov. 8, 2010 12:03 p.m.

    TO Otis:

    What makes the article say that seems to be that the Book of Mormon isn't historical? The Book of Mormon is a historical book pertaining to God's dealing with a group of people living here in the American Hemisphere. It also pertains to ONE tribe of the House of Israel, Joseph. We have information that allows us to know that there were others here such as the Jaredites and Mulekites. Do you just want someone to say it isn't historical in the sense we mean historical or not at all. The Bible in and of itself only pertains to the House of Israel as well, not every living being that was ever on the Earth. However, more are willing to believe just the Bible because of the Old World. Wow, and as far as we are concerned the American continent is only been known and explored for a few hundred years. There is lots we don't know about the historical factors of this hemisphere so you say science is proving it isn't historical when in a sense it has proven in many ways the Book of Mormon to be true.

  • Mike Ash Ogden, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 11:43 a.m.

    To Charles: You are absolutely mistaken in your claim that this is not "not considered scholarly by anyone in the academic world."

    Both Dr. Sorenson and Dr. Clark are in the "academic world" and are quoted as taking a scholarly approach to the Book of Mormon. Hence, your charge has been proven to be false.

    To Otis:
    Your claim that apologists are being dishonest is duly noted. I never said that it could not be "reasonably concluded" that the BoM is not historic. On the other hand, it can also be "reasonably conculded" (based on the evidence) that the BoM _is_ historical. From my (honest) research, I think it is probable that the BoM is historic (based strictly on secular evidenc).

  • Otis Spurlock Ogden, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 9:52 a.m.

    Michael Ash wrote:


    ..scholars assume that the simplest interpretation is likely the best.


    ...all internal geographical features must be consistent with one another.


    ..both textual evidence and logic require an assumption of uniformity in the way nature operates today and operated in Book of Mormon times … subject to the normal laws and processes of nature.”

    According to the above criteria, that Mr. Ash set forth in his article, it can be reasonably concluded that the BoM is not historic.

    It would be refreshing for there to be complete honesty in these discussions. For example, I would love to hear Mr. Ash state that the preponderance of the evidence is clearly against the BoM being historical.

    It is possible that the BoM is historical, but highly improbable according to the above criteria and the evidence from many different areas of science. It would be refreshing for an apologist to be straightforward and truthful about the current crop of evidence.

  • JM Lehi, UT
    Nov. 8, 2010 9:02 a.m.

    Another great article Mike, thanks.
    I agree that the changes probably weren’t as dramatic as some have argued (changing direction of Sidon, moving land masses etc),and, for me there is an area that fits miraculously well, as is (in ways JS obviously could not have known, but only a prophet who lived it, like Mormon), but, I also recently read a non-LDS scholar’s discussion of the Grijalva extending coastline for miles (apparently since BoM times), and other minor changes that might alter certain things.

    For other topics lw in comments (trinity), there are good articles on FAIR etc, one book I like: “Restoring the Ancient Church,” is online.

    I agree that, even with mountains of evidence, spirit is still crucial, and w/Jeff to Otis lw.
    Once we have plates, then we know, faith is dormant, we’ll have to exercise faith another way.

    When we read plates we’ll see they never said “I Nephi….” or “blessed are…” English came through JS mind, pondering (See Mike’s articles, book etc). Nephite culture was systematically destroyed after war; plates were special, hidden, not mainstream language (that changed anyway, probably especially when absorbed into larger Mulekite/JAredite